16-year-old arrested over alleged plot to hijack US airliner

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Southwest airliner (file photo).
Image: Dylan Ashe.

A 16-year-old male from Novato, California has been arrested in Tennessee over allegations he intended to hijack a commercial passenger airliner in the United States.

The boy, who was unnamed due to his age, was a passenger on board Southwest Airlines Flight 284 from Los Angeles to Nashville on Tuesday, with his parents reporting him missing at 11:30 am the same day. Although he remained calm throughout the flight and made no hijacking attempt, authorities report he had handcuffs, duct tape and yarn inside the aircraft cabin with him. Although his arrest was only made public on Friday, it is reported that he was detained immediately on reaching Nashville International Airport.

George Bolds, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that the items were "suspicious" and that the boy had informed the FBI he had indeed intended to hijack the aircraft. An FBI agent told reporters that he felt the plot was ill-conceived, saying "His plan had a low probability of success."

The FBI also conducted a search of his home on Thursday, finding in his room "a photograph of the inside of a small aircraft, something you'd find in a bookstore."

Subsequent to his arrest he pled guilty on Friday to a "delinquent act," according to local officials. A juvenile court judge ordered him to be returned to California for continued perusal of that charge as well as others set to be made. He is currently in Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center in Nashville.

Authorities believe that the teen was suicidal, but the FBI dismissed earlier reports alleging that he intended to crash the airliner into a Hannah Montana concert in Lafayette, Louisiana.


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